Saucony’s secret news is leaking out!

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

The cat seems to be out of the bag in terms of the “top secret” news that Saucony plans to share. Via re-tweets on Saucony’s Twitter feed and through blogs I follow, it seems like the running shoe stork is dropping off boxes of the pre-market Kinvara 3 to bloggers and reviewers like me. This is a shoe I’ve been anxiously anticipating.

After reading people’s first impressions, I’m even more excited to receive my pair. I’m also worried that something got botched up and my shoes won’t ever reach me. In the meantime, I continue to appreciate the feel and responsiveness of my new Spira Stinger XLT’s that I wore on today’s run. It was my third workout with the XLT’s and the second on the treadmill (raining this morning). I hope to take them out on a long base run tomorrow.

So as I wait for the Kinvaras to arrive, I’ll be happy to run with the XLT’s. I’m really curious to see if the Wavespring technology delivers any extra support when I face that last big hill at the end of mile 8.

First outdoor run in the XLT’s: interesting results

Today’s run: 2.5 miles

I’m not quite sure what to make of this morning’s run. My expectations were set to high for a performance boost that I hoped to get from the new Spira XLT’s. I hoped the claim of a 15 sec/mile improvement was more than marketing hype. I’ve learned over the years that it’s really not the shoe, but the person in the shoe, that determines outcome. Still, I was hopeful.

I was excited to try the new shoes on the road and I took off on a somewhat faster pace than normal, once my Garmin was ready. The XLT’s felt good, not super-cushioned, but comfortable. I noticed the ride was high, compared to my Hattori’s and Mirages, but I still felt like I was landing mid-foot. The slight uphill of the first road on my route was a good basis for judging the benefit of the Wavespring technology. I moved along well, but it wasn’t a transforming experience.

Once I leveled out, I let the shoes do their thing. I probably pushed a little harder than usual, perhaps because I anticipated a dramatic improvement of my pace. I had no issues with the feel of the shoes but I wouldn’t say they provided noticeable energy return. I knew I could have run faster, but I didn’t want to add too many variables to the mix. My goal was to see if, during a normal run, I’d really see measurable improvement.

Regardless of the shoes, I felt good on this run. Like Sunday and Tuesday’s workouts, my stamina has improved since I began my weekend base training. I crossed the threshold of my driveway, hit “Stop” on the Garmin and saw that I finished my run 43 seconds faster than the last run along that route. But that day it was windy and I may not have pushed as hard as I did today. Then again, it could have been the shoes. A few more runs will show whether I’m gaining speed, or if today was simply a fluke.

First impression: Spira Stinger XLT’s

Float like a bee?

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

Yesterday I posted about two pairs of mystery shoes and last night I got to try on the first pair. They are lightweight running shoes from a company called Spira, based in El Paso, TX. Spira shoes contain something called “Wavespring Technology” where specially designed springs are embedded within the mid-sole to enable better energy return to runners and walkers.

The shoes I received are Spira’s performance model, called Stinger XLT. I think they are called Stingers because (with their bright yellow and black highlights) the shoes resemble a bumble bee. I don’t judge shoes on the way they look, but people who like their running shoes to be noticeable will not be disappointed.

I took the XLT’s out of the box and had two reactions. First was, “That looks like a lot of shoe, I’ll bet they’re heavy.” After picking them up I thought, “How can a shoe containing metal springs be this light?” I put one on my foot and was pleased with the comfortable foot bed. It’s a well cushioned shoe and while I usually prefer the other end of the spectrum (Saucony Hattori’s), I appreciated the comfortable fit.

I’d asked for size 11’s, 1/2 size up from what I usually wear, because lately I’ve had issues with tight toe-boxes. The XLT’s fit me well and the toe-box was fine. A quick run around the house reinforced that, lots of room, but no slippage. I checked the morning’s weather and it said rain, so I decided to try my first run on the treadmill.

After two relatively long runs over the weekend, my feet were a little sore and the XLT’s provided a nice cushioned base. The Wavesprings do not create a “moon-bounce” effect. In fact, it would not be obvious to someone that this shoe contained any special technology. The XLT’s do provide a decent response though, not unlike my Brooks GTS 10’s in their early days.

The shoes performed very well on the treadmill. They moved naturally with my foot, felt stable and returned good energy. I couldn’t test the predicted 15 sec/mile improvement communicated to me by Andrew B. Krafsur, Spira’s founder, but I found it surprisingly easy to maintain a sub 9:00/mile pace once I got going.

I’m planning to try the shoes on the road tomorrow morning. If they perform well I’ll use them for at least one of my long runs this weekend. My most popular post is titled “Tubes, zig-zags, bounces, shocks and resistors” which is about gimmicky running shoes that fall short of expectations. So far (and surprisingly), the Stinger XLT’s appear to be the real deal.